Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Two years ago today, I hurt my mother. I got married.

My wedding was technically planned over the course of one year, but the reality is that most of it was planned in the last four months, and even the bulk of that was in the last few weeks. I loved my wedding. I loved getting married. I loved the reception and all of the people there to see me. I loved dressing up in the big white dress, having my hair done, and being, with Brooke, the center of attention.

I didn’t love planning it. It wasn’t fun. Trying on dresses was fun. Orchestrating vendors and schedules and supplies wasn’t, not at all. Brooke and I made all of the decisions together, just the two of us, with the exception of the flowers. Brooke’s mother had a florist she wanted to use, and I know next to nothing about flowers, so I left it to them.

In the meantime, Brooke and I were sifting through all of the chaos involved in buying our first home. We looked, bid, and negotiated, ordered inspections and contractors and moving trailers, and we moved in about one and a half months before the wedding. We worked to get our home ready. I interviewed for a job. Most significantly, Mom had 70% of her liver removed, and her eight week recovery period was up the day of the rehearsal dinner.

My parents’ home is almost two hours from ours. It’s not the kind of distance conducive to family meetings for wedding planning, but I should have known better. I knew how much my wedding meant to my mother. I should have known to make her a part of the planning, to invite her to be involved. Brooke and I had enough trouble agreeing on the picky details of the wedding that it seemed unwise to bring another person into the mix. And truthfully, I wasn’t thinking about my mother when I planned my wedding. I was thinking about Brooke and me.

There were some things that we had Brooke’s mom get involved with, things like picking up the food we ordered for the rehearsal dinner, like picking up the maid of honor at the airport, like being the one to review the bill with the caterer and pay with our Visa.

I read Mom’s journal the other day. I wanted to know what she had to say about the wedding, and now I wish I hadn’t.

Yesterday was Em’s wedding. I couldn’t have felt less involved. I guess there is only one mother of the bride—Brooke’s mother.

I remember talking about this with her after the wedding, how hurt she was, how I was so completely oblivious, how Brooke’s mom wasn’t more involved than she was. I don’t know if my explanations ever made sense. I know that it took a few weeks before her anger subsided, and that she wrote about what we did together to move past it.

But still, I look at my wedding pictures differently now. I look at her and see her struggling not to appear hurt. That journal entry, no matter how resolved the issue ever was, is still there. It’s burned into my brain. So while I’m thrilled to be married for two years (almost to the minute, now), I’m so sad for what I did in the process. I hurt my mother. I got married.


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